Google has come under fire from a group including search engine rival Microsoft over the allegedly “deceptive way” in which its Android operating system dominates the market.
The Internet giant provides its Android platform for free, but Fairsearch Europe – a group of 17 tech firms also including Oracle and Nokia – believes the operating system in an example of anti-competitive “predatory pricing”.
According to Fairsearch Europe, the Android OS is “a deceptive way to build advantages” which aims to “dominate the mobile marketplace and cement its control over consumer Internet data for online advertising as usage shifts to mobile”.
While Google makes the vast majority of its revenue through Internet marketing professionals using its search engine for PPC advertising and other forms of online marketing, recent studies have also suggested the firm could generate as much as $5bn from tablets this year alone: With advertisers increasing looking to capitalise on the uptake of smart devices.
The main criticism from the group revolves around the fact Android is provided to device makers free of charge, but Fairsearch Europe claims the phone makers are then typically required to pre-load the phone with a number of Google products.
The Android OS system currently equates for more than two-thirds of the smartphones currently shipped in Europe. Only Google and Microsoft provide licensed mobile OS’s, other big players in the smartphone world such as Apple and Blackberry do not licence their own mobile OS.
A lawyer representing the Fairsearch Europe complaint, Thomas Vinje, said: “Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan horse’ to deceive partners, monopolise the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data.
“We are asking the commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market.
“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.”
In defence of the search engine giant, a Google spokesman said: “We continue to work co-operatively with the European commission.”
Google is currently being investigated by the European Commission – headed by antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia – over a number of antitrust issues.
Only last month a similar letter of complaint over the way Google conducts its vertical search form a group, including Foundem, Expedia and TripAdvisor, criticised the search engine over what it claimed was an “anti-competitive impact of search manipulation.”
Google has always denied any wrongdoing however, and in a similar case in the US, the FTC found the search engine firm not guilty following a two year investigation.
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